Experimental (Re)structuring: The Clinical Trial as Turning Point Among Medical Research Participants

Kaitlyn Jaffe, P. Todd Korthuis, Lindsey Richardson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Amid the growth of addiction medicine randomized controlled trials (RCTs), scholars have begun examining participants’ study experiences, highlighting facilitators and barriers to enrollment. However, this work can overlook the interplay between trial participation and social-structural dimensions among people with substance use disorders linked to the social nature of use, socioeconomic marginalization, and time demands of substance procurement and use. To effectively conduct RCTs with this unique population, it is necessary to examine the broader social context of study participation. We conducted nested qualitative interviews with 22 participants involved in an RCT testing a treatment for alcohol and opioid use disorders in HIV clinics. Thematic analyses revealed social-structural circumstances shaping RCT participation as well as how participation constitutes a turning point, prompting individuals to reconfigure social networks, reorient to spatial environments, and reorganize day-to-day life—with implications for how substance use disorder RCTs should be approached by researchers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1504-1517
Number of pages14
JournalQualitative health research
Issue number8
StatePublished - Jul 2021


  • Canada
  • lived experience
  • marginalized or vulnerable populations
  • qualitative interviews
  • substance use
  • users’ experiences

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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